Q: Your song and video are poignant and powerful. What was your creative process in making “CRY”?
AWAL: I was in Vermont on a girls trip. We rented an airbnb in the woods and hid away for a few days. I always love to write outside surrounded by green. It’s comforting and reminds me of home. We had a conversation about being Black Women and all of the hurtful narratives from being the “Angry Black Women” to the “White guy’s jungle fever” to being overlooked for jobs and promotions to the daily microaggressions. Then, it moved into a conversation that is often just too hard for me to talk about, Breonna Taylor. That could have been me or my best friend. It’s terrifying to think that you are just one moment away from being a victim to police brutality. What is even more hard to face is that if something happens to us, there will be no justice or accountability. This was around the time where Meg Thee Stallion was in the media for being shot. The woman gets SHOT and still people do not see the clear disrespect that we receive. The reality is that Black women are not protected but we still show up and do the work and fight.
Q: Did any real-life events occur in your life that influenced the song?
AWAL: I have always been active in the Black Lives Matter movement but when the protests broke out in the summer, I was able to use my platform to inform others of when and where the protests would be daily. There were some pretty memorable moments while being on the frontlines where I feared for my livelihood and also felt moments of hope being surrounded by allies. Seeing all of the amazing Black Women leading was so inspiring.
Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to follow your path as a musician?
AWAL: My dad was a Pastor and did worship music at church. I grew up singing in his band and working at local Summer Stock Theatre, Millbrook Playhouse! My first musical was Wizard Of Oz. I spent a majority of my career pursuing Musical Theatre but when I was experiencing some health issues, I stopped auditioning for a while and started writing. There were so many people placed in my life at that time who pushed me to become my own artist. I feel at home when I am on stage and performing my own music for the first time was just thrilling! I had to keep going!
Q: Your vocals are soulful and raw! Who are your biggest influences?
AWAL: I am heavily influenced by Mary J Blige, Brandy, HER, Kehlani and of course, Beyonce
Q: What is coming up next for you?
AWAL: My first EP will be coming out this year and I cannot wait to share!
Q: What would you like to tell your supporters out there?
AWAL: THANK YOU!! Seriously. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, I NEVER thought I could do this or have the confidence to pursue this route. I used to write songs on swing in my backyard when I was little dreaming that one day I could sing them on stage and ya’ll are making it a reality!